Learning to Accept your feelings

As the pandemic rolls on in 2020 into September, I continue to hear clients, family and friends continually minimize their feelings. They admit they are struggling with anxiety or depression yet often remark “but I have a job” or “I am healthy” so I really shouldn’t complain. Sure, we all could have it worse by getting COVID or losing a family member. But this pandemic is real for every single one of us and has caused everyone to have to change their lives and make many sacrifices. There are so many losses right now faced by everyone in the world. We all are grieving. The loss of:

· Security and safety, going to public places including restaurants can be stress inducing now with fear of catching COVID

· Loss of ability to work out at a gym (depending on your state)

· Loss of vacation cancellations and not being able to travel out of the country or not feeling safe enough to travel anywhere

· Loss of fun public events, concerts, sporting events, large weddings, theater

· Loss of closure when a loved one dies and a limited number can go to the funeral

· Loss of ability to plan too far ahead for social events

· Loss of hugs from friends (this kills me, I’m a hugger!), having to keep far apart from them

· Loss of parties or large get togethers with friends/family

· Loss of connection seeing people at an office if you work from home

· For some loss of job, income

That is a not a full list but that is a lot right there isn’t it?? “More than 90% of people who responded to a new nationwide survey reported feeling increased worry, frustration, boredom or anxiety during the ongoing

coronavirus pandemic,” (Sullivan, T.,2020)

As this pandemic continues we still have no clear answers on how long it will be and how many more people will get it. The uncertainty of this can be traumatizing as well. So stepping back a moment, remember that this is hard on everyone. Period. You don’t have to have the most severe repercussions from the pandemic to feel anxious or depressed. Its important to accept your emotions as they are and not push them away or use drugs or alcohol to mask them. So how do you accept your emotions?

1. Observe it without judgment, see it for what it is. “I’m feeling sad now” and imagine pulling it out of you and observing it in front of you as if it were an object. What colors, shape, size do you see?

2. Offer yourself validation: “this is hard what I am going through, it is uncomfortable.”

3. Remind yourself that nothing is permanent, feelings come and go and if you allow yourself to sit with it for a few minutes chances are it will ease up.

4. Practice some mindfulness to keep yourself in the present moment. Notice what sensations are happening in your body, scan yourself from your head all the way down to your feed and notice without judgment. “I feel tension in my shoulders” or “I have tightness in my head.” What other emotion are you feeling right now?

5. Ask yourself , “what do I need in this moment?” And be quiet until you get an image in your mind, a thought or desire to get up and do something. Honor yourself by giving your body and mind what it needs in the moment.

6. Repeat these affirmations or create your own: “What I feel is ok and I can hold space for that feeling” “I am not defined by how I feel and it doesn’t have to impact my whole day” “I trust this feeling is temporary and will move through me”

Feelings are not always comfortable or wanted. But they do make you human and the more you can accept what you feel and sit with your feelings, the more you will improve your overall well-being.

Sullivan, T. (2020) National survey measures mental health impact of COVID-19 pandemic, taken from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-07-national-survey-mental-health-impact.html